June 18, 2018
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Former Village Soup related properties to be sold at auction next month

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — Two properties that were used as collateral when Village NetMedia purchased six community newspapers less than four years ago are now scheduled to be sold at a public foreclosure auction.

One of the properties includes the former newspaper printing plant in Rockland where the six papers had been printed.

The First N.A. bank in Damariscotta filed notices on April 9 in the Knox County Registry of Deeds for the public sales of both the former printing plant at 1 Gordon Drive in Rockland and a commercial building at 71 Elm St. in Camden.

The two properties were owned by two entities owned by Village Soup owner Richard Anderson — RMA Properties, LLC, and Richard Anderson Declaration of Trust.

The two properties will be auctioned on Monday, May 14.

Village NetMedia closed its newspaper operations March 9. Those newspapers included The Village Soup Gazette in Rockland, the Village Soup Journal in Belfast, the Bar Harbor Times in Bar Harbor, the Capital Weekly in Augusta and its entertainment publication, The Scene.

The remaining assets of Village NetMedia were sold March 21 by the bank to Reade Brower, owner of The Free Press. Brower has restarted weekly newspapers in Rockland, Camden and Belfast but the Bar Harbor Times and Capital Weekly were not revived.

Anderson had said at the time of the closures that he had been trying to keep his papers operating but negotiations between him, the bank and investors fell apart.

Mortgage documents filed in the Knox County Registry of Deeds shows that The First made a $7.5 million loan to Village NetMedia and RMA in June 2008 when Village NetMedia purchased the Courier Publications newspapers. Also approved that day were a second loan of $823,000 and an agreement for future lines of credit not to exceed a combined $12 million.

When the newspapers were shut down, Anderson would not disclose how much he had paid for them but said it was a reasonable price for 2008. He added at the time that the company could not recover from the loss of 45 percent of real estate and automobile advertisements in the ensuing years due to changes in the industry and a declining economy.

The former printing plant building is located in Rockland’s Industrial Park. The property includes 1.6 acres with the 11,000-square-foot building. The city has the property assessed for $401,200.

The Rockland property auction sale is set for 11 a.m. May 14.

The sale of the other parcel has been scheduled for 12:30 p.m. that same day.

The 71 Elm St. property consists of a little more than a third of an acre and a 4,200-square foot, two-and-a-half-story building. The town has the property valued at $775,900.

The building is one of two adjacent structures which make up the Wellness Center in Camden. The second building is owned by a separate party.

The Wellness Center consists of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners who lease spaces.

Attorney Jacob Manheimer of Portland, who represents the bank, said Wednesday that the leases with tenants will remain with any sale of the property.

RMA sold its 301 Park St. property in Rockland, where the newspaper offices were located, on Jan. 13 to Knox County for $500,000 for the expansion of the county’s public safety facilities.

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